Thursday, December 17, 2015

Review of Simplicity 1318, View D

Short story: A while back, I found a lovely pattern and just had to make it as a selfish sewing project. Except it was supposed to be fast. And at the last minute I gave in to incorrect thinking and made a different view than the one I fell in love with. Still, I am very happy with the results.

I bumped into Simplicity 1318 in the vast recesses of Pinterest and just loved the example, View C. I do not wear kimonos generally, or even a bathrobe, but I have an unnatural affection for wrap dresses and I liked this so much I was, for the first time ever, able to mentally embrace the potential of a hi-lo hemline. Craziness.

My plan had been to simply make a version of view C as well, using 3 yards of a lovely, vaguely tropical, floral printed poly crepe de chine I had purchased via thrift 6+ years ago for about $3. Did somebody say stash busting? Yes, I am so proud of myself. I figured view C would swamp my petite proportions so I had planned to shorten it, but at the last minute, with scissors glinting over still creased tissue paper, I figured, what the heck, I’ll make this one view D and use a georgette or chiffon for a view D closer to summer.

Ummm… wait, what? As you can see in the line drawing, view D has literally MILES of hand sewing to secure the inside of the wraparound band. Like 10 miles. Anyway, I began cutting into my $1 paper pattern. I cut it as offered for a size medium but eliminated the back seam and extended the sleeves several inches (it’s winter, after all), and then added bands to them too a la view C. Because why not add 2 more miles of hand sewing when you have the chance? I quickly realized the way this was going down but figured it would be character building and I could work on my technique. *Newly older and wiser me rolls her eyes.*

 The construction was fine until the bit where I was supposed to be sewing a concave band to a convex front section or two. The end result was also fine, but it was pretty finicky going and I was not at all sure it was going to turn out right in the end. I pinned like a crazy woman. There was much sweating. It wasn’t pretty, but in the end it came out like a peach. Except it wasn’t done. There was the hand sewing. That part took 3 days of here and there stitching. Again, the end result is beautiful… just as lovely inside as out. I had used French seams (and notched and reinforced them in three places under each arm), so I was clearly in a perfectionist mood. I cannot say with certainty that my ladder stitch is any better now than 12 miles ago, but I’d like to think I did take home a little fortitude.

View of the inside of the band. Not too shabby…

I used the last little bits of fabric to sew a long sash to rein in the volume and define the waist, before the holidays while I still have one. It’s not really designed to overlap, so it’s a bit awkward doing that but the bold print hides all manner of fashion sins and I will continue in my errant ways. I think the mild hi-lo situation (in this application only) is actually flattering… it breaks up what would otherwise be a eye-hogging horizontal line across a wide area. Again, I’m astounded that I’ve just admitted that. I’m old, I know…

Overall, I am incredibly pleased with the end result, even for as much pain as it was. I do love the fabric, and I think it can dress up or down as the occasion requires. I wore it out with dark jeans and a black camisole and felt stylish, but I think it would also do well with a black pencil skirt to fancier events. And in that regard it was a total success… a multitasking wardrobe builder. I am not sure when I will go about making a view D in a sheer fabric, but I have confidence that it will turn out again should I ever attempt it. And, if I ever get my act together to take photos of this project on my actual body instead of my stand-in, I’ll be sure to update this post.

Monday, December 14, 2015

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread

This is a recipe I tried for the first time this year… initially stumbled upon this gem at They were cute… but were they tasty?

I am happy to report that these adorable morsels of cherry-studded shortbread are, in fact, very tasty indeed. The beauty is that they can be altered to suit your tastes, like most cherished icebox recipes can. I made them with white chocolate morsels, but you could just as easily use dark chocolate. Or green cherries (eww) or dried cranberries (might have to try that one). I gave these a decorative drizzle of Ghirardelli Dark Melting Chocolate wafers, and I will certainly make them again, though I may spring for fancier cherries next time.

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup maraschino cherries, chopped (I pulsed them briefly in the food processor because I’m lazy)
1/2 cup white and/or dark chocolate chips
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
White or dark chocolate melting wafers
Cream the butter and the sugar. Mix the flour and the salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet until it starts forming larger clumps. Mix in the maraschino cherries, white chocolate and vanilla extract.
Form the dough into the shape that you want, wrap it in parchment paper or plastic and let it chill in the fridge for at least an hour. Cut the log into 1/4 inch thick slices and place them on a parchment lined baking pan with one inch of space between them.
Bake in a preheated 325F/170C oven until they just start to turn lightly golden brown on top, about 10-15 minutes. Let cool completely.
Melt the chocolate wafer in a zipper baggie in a cup of near-boiling water. Massage occasionally until all is melted. Drizzle the chocolate over the cookies, place on a sheet of parchment paper and let cool until the chocolate sets.